WEA appoints Simon Parkinson as new Chief Executive

Adult education charity, the WEA is delighted to announce the appointment of Simon Parkinson to the position of CEO and General Secretary. Simon joins the charity from his role as Chief Executive and Principal at The Co-operative College.

Simon joins the WEA with extensive experience in the education sector. He joined The Co-operative College in March 2015 having previously worked for 19 years at Royal Mencap Society, including as Director of Education, Learning and Work.

Commenting on his new role, Simon said: “I am excited by the prospect of leading the WEA, an organisation with a tremendous history and an exciting future. Many of our communities are divided and our work is as vital and more needed than ever. I strongly believe that bringing people together to expand their knowledge, skills and understanding of each other is central to re-building communities.”

Discussing his departure from the College, Simon adds: “I have enjoyed my time at the College immensely and have felt privileged to lead it through its centenary year. The power of people working together should never be underestimated, it is after all what built the global co-operative movement. With high profile projects such as a Co-operative University now tantalisingly close to fruition, I feel the College is well placed to build on the enthusiasm and momentum created. Through our work on the Adult Education 100 campaign, we have built on our strong relationship with the WEA and I hope to see this relationship go from strength to strength in the future.”
 
John Widdowson, Chair of Trustees at the WEA, commented on the appointment: “Simon is a fantastic appointment. He will bring with him much valued experience and skills as well as his passion for education and its ability to empower and inspire. He joins as an exciting time for the organisation as the announcement comes after the launch of this year’s business plan and budget, which is the first step to delivering the ambitious targets set out in the WEA 2025 Strategy. Growing our sustainability will ensure we are here for generations to come and will enable us to maximise our share of voice on behalf of the most disadvantaged in society.”

Simon will take up the role in December following the Co-operative College’s Centenary Conference and replaces Ruth Spellman as CEO and General Secretary.

John adds: “We thank Ruth for all her achievements, passion and dedication to the WEA and the adult education sector for the last seven years and for driving the organisation forward through a major programme of change. Over the past year alone, we have secured substantial funding including from the Mayoral Combined Authorities and launched our new 2025 strategy thanks to her drive and determination.

 “The trustees are proud to have Simon on board to help ensure that the WEA continues to provide learning opportunities for all including for the most disadvantaged adults.”